Stretchy cheese shots look fantastic. They stand out and they capture the greatness of the dish. But it’s quite a challenging shot! So here are my tips for how to do stretchy cheese shots.
I’ve been posting some pretty serious topics lately so I thought I’d throw in something a bit more fun this week!
And what’s more fun that stretchy cheese? Eating it, shooting it…
OK, maybe not shooting it. It can be a challenge. Anyone who has read my blog knows that I am cheese obsessed. I’m not kidding when I say that I’m yet to meet a cheese I don’t love. 😉
Sooo…..I’ve had a bit of practice with stretchy cheese shots. So I thought I’d share my tips!
How To Do Stretchy Cheese Shots
I classify cheesy dishes into two categories – those that have cheese inside things (like the cheese and bacon rolls) and those that have cheese on top of things (like lasagnas). (And then of course you have the third very special category – the foods of the world have cheese inside and on top!).
Every dish is different so I’ll cover an example for each of these two types of cheesy dishes and explain how I got the stretchy cheese shot.
Tips that apply to all dishes
1. Use mozzarella cheese! That is, if you are dead set on capturing a stretchy cheese shot for your recipe, incorporate at least some mozzarella into it because not only does it stretch the best, it also maintains it’s stretchiness way longer than other cheeses. (Speaking from experience here!)
In the Ham, Cheese and Egg Bread Bowl photo above, I used a mix of mozzarella and cheddar cheese even though in the recipe, I say to use cheddar.
2. Use a stand in – time is of the essence when it comes to stretchy cheese shots, especially if you have not used mozzarella cheese. So for shots where I am dead set on getting a stretchy cheese shot, I always use a stand in, do test shots, then swap it out for the real thing.
For the cheese and bacon rolls below, I had everything set up (including the pile of rolls) and I used a spare roll as the “test” one. Then when I was ready to shoot, I just swapped that one roll. (Read below for how I prepped the stretchy cheese in the roll).
Cheese Inside Things
Using the Cheese and Bacon Roll below as an example, here’s how I shoot cheese inside of things:
1. Set up the shot and do practice shots using a spare roll.
2. Let the cheese cool down.
3. Break the roll open, then prop the halves up against each other so the broken side is facing up. At this stage, you could also stuff in some extra cheese to help with stretch! Then microwave it to remelt the cheese. The reason the broken side is facing up is so no cheese oozes out.
4. When the cheese is melted again, hold the roll to push the “break” seam together then tilt the roll so the melted cheese bonds again.
5. Then place the roll in the shot, pull the broken piece away and shoot!
Don’t try to focus on the stretch, way too hard (unless you have a helper). Focus somewhere close to it (on a natural focal point) that is around the same “line” as where the stretch is so they are roughly the same distance from the lens – helps the stretch be in focus.
I applied a similar approach to these Stuffed Baguette. In this case, the baguette was already sliced so I didn’t have to break it. I got the shot completely set up, and took test shots so I knew exactly where I was going to focus, which direction I was going to pull the piece etc.
Then I broke off two pieces – the piece I am pulling away and the piece the cheese is attached to. I put them together, upright, and microwave them to remelt the cheese. Plonked it back into the shot. Pulled. Clicked.
Got the shot.
Cheese On Things
Food with melted cheese on top of things are much easier to shoot than when cheese is inside. The example below is a Baked Spinach & Ricotta Rotolo which is one of earlier recipes I posted on my blog. (I’m actually shocked I haven’t posted one since!)
I set up the shot using the dish, garnish and all the props. Once the dish is cool enough so the slice / piece scooped out will hold its shape, cut the piece you want to pull out.
Now do test shots so you can set your camera angle and you know where you want to focus.
Then add a sprinkle of cheese on the cut seams (more cheese = more stretch), broil or microwave. Plonk dish back in the same position, and when you scoop you will get the stretch.
Best thing is to focus on the piece pulled out. You really need a tripod to do that. Place the scoop in place, ready to lift. Look through the lens, lift, focus and shoot.
Tip: Action shots are where 35mm lenses come in very handy. Because you can be closer to the food than using a 50mm or 105mm, it means that you can be so close to the food that you can (usually) look through the viewfinder and reach round and scoop up the piece. That’s how I did all the action shot examples in this post. And that’s how I can make sure the camera is focussing where I want it to focus.
So – they’re my tips! Do you have any more ideas? I’d love to hear them! I’ll update the post with other suggestions.
Happy weekend everyone! Especially to those in the US – HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!
Cheers…to CHEESE! 😉
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